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Free at Noon Flashback: Hamilton Leithauser and Rostam shake the rafters “A 1000 Times” over

Hamilton and Rostam | photo by Tiana Timmerberg for WXPN
Hamilton and Rostam | photo by Tiana Timmerberg for WXPN

When I first heard that Hamilton Leithauser and Rostam Batmanglij were putting out an album together, I was as excited as I was apprehensive. It sounded great on paper, of course, but rarely do collaborations like this go over as well as they’re theoretically supposed to. With The Walkmen and Vampire Weekend in their respective back catalogs, the duo had a lot to live up to, but this afternoon, they did just that with an exhilarating, eight-song set at WXPN’s Free at Noon concert. Continue reading →

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Free at Noon Flashback: Bear’s Den Proves Themselves to be an Obvious Standout in Today’s Folk Rock Scene

Bears Den live at Free At Noon | Photo by: Tiana Timmerberg
Bears Den live at Free At Noon | Photo by: Tiana Timmerberg

Based on their super casual demeanor and lead singer Andrew Davie’s repeatedly thanking the crowd for attending- you would never know that UK-based duo Bear’s Den accumulates an impressive 1 million listeners per month on Spotify.

The duo, consisting of Andrew Davie as the lead vocalist/guitarist and the multi-instrumental Kev Jones, was backed by an impressive four man band at today’s Free at Noon concert. The band was promoting their sophomore album Red Earth and Pouring Rain which was released on July 22. With the rise in popularity of folk-rock, it is easy for Americana inspired bands to get overlooked because of the influx of other groups also falling into this genre. Not Bear’s Den, Davies put a truly poetic spin on the typical themes of lost love and navigating adulthood. Lyrics like “There will still be a trace of our love left behind in the dew upon the vine” from Dew on the Vine and “I was too young to understand the flowers slipping from your hands” from their international hit Above the Clouds of Pompeii were enough to catch the ear of any prose enthusiasts in the crowd. Onlookers was mesmerized for the entirety of the thirty-minute set. Not a sound was made anywhere in the room except in between songs at which time the crowd enthusiastically whistled and cheered for the bashful men on stage. Continue reading →

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Free At Noon Flashback: Carsie Blanton gets labor day weekend under way in style

Carsie Blanton | photo by John Vettese for WXPN
Carsie Blanton | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Onetime local singer-songwriter Carsie Blanton has been hiding out in New Orleans for the past five years, but she made a return to the Philly area this week on a run of shows in support of her latest LP, So Ferocious. The new record, her sixth, made up the bulk of today’s setlist, with the groovy “Hot Night” giving way to the playful “So Ferocious” and Blanton’s quirky yet controlled voice sitting in the center amid dulcet tones. Continue reading →

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Free At Noon Flashback: A Philadelphia lunch break with Butch Walker

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Butch Walker | Photo by Sydney Schaefer for WXPN | sydneyschaeferphotos.com

Georgia native rocker Butch Walker joined the XPN community today, putting on a wonderful Free at Noon show from start to finish. He was joined Suzanne Santo of Honey Honey who sings the harmony vocals on his songs. Walker kicked off his set with the title track off his new album, Stay Gold, which just dropped today on Dangerbird Records. “I’m really proud of this record, even though it doesn’t look like it,” Walker told the crowd before playing “Stay Gold”. Later on in his set, he went on to tell us again just how proud he truly is of this new album. Continue reading →

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Free At Noon Flashback: The Stray Birds share a special set to celebrate the release of Magic Fire

The Stray Birds | Photo by Kimberly Ilkowski for WXPN | ilkowski.com
The Stray Birds | Photo by Kimberly Ilkowski for WXPN | ilkowski.com

Early on in The Stray Birds‘ Free At Noon set Friday, Oliver Craven took a moment to instruct the audience. “We were told to avoid dead air,” he said. “So keep clapping.” It was a playful moment during a special set for the trio-turned-quartet from Lancaster. Friday marks the release of their newest album Magic Fire, produced by the legendary Larry Campbell, and as Maya de Vitry added after Craven’s remark, the band was having so much fun finally playing some new songs. Continue reading →

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Free At Noon Flashback: Kyle Craft brings his ragtime rock to World Cafe Live

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Kyle Craft | Photo by Cameron Pollack for WXPN | cameronpollackphotography.com

As Kyle Craft kicked off his Free At Noon set Friday, the man in front of me took ten seconds to record a quick video of the Portland-based, Louisiana-bred musician. But when he went to caption the video to inform his Snapchat followers of whose music he was taking in, the man typed “Kyle Graft.” He even made the font extra large, adding further reason to suspect it wasn’t an unnoticed error — he most likely thought Craft’s name actually started with the letter G. (On the other hand, it’s pretty rad that a guy comes out to see a band he doesn’t know that well, on a Friday afternoon, just to discover new music!) Continue reading →

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Free At Noon Flashback: Earnest on her electric, Margaret Glaspy echoes folk and grunge vibes

Margaret Glasby | Photo by Sydney Schaefer for WXPN | sydneyschaeferphotos.com
Margaret Glaspy | Photo by Sydney Schaefer for WXPN | sydneyschaeferphotos.com

With wide-eyed wonder, an audience member in the front row grabbed the arm of her friend as singer-songwriter Margaret Glaspy took her voice from a tender warble to an impassioned gravel. Not quite folk and not quite grunge, Glaspy has carved out her own space in the scene to encapsulate the myriad of sounds she blends together. With her debut album Emotions and Math released in June, Glaspy power-packed her performance with as many tracks from the new LP as she could fit, even treating the crowd to encore featuring a just-written, untitled track. Continue reading →

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Free At Noon Flashback: Quilt creates a groovin’ dreamscape of sound

Quilt | Photo by Sydney Schaefer for WXPN | sydneyschaeferphotos.com
Quilt | Photo by Sydney Schaefer for WXPN | sydneyschaeferphotos.com

After a dreamy psychedelic performance at Johnny Brenda’s in March and as one of the must hear new acts at Firefly Music Festival last month, we were more than excited to welcome back the New England indie rockers Quilt for a Free At Noon show before their headlining gig at The Foundry later this evening. Riding a wave opportunities following the February release of their third LP Plaza, the band is back and ready to inspire with a fresh batch of airy tracks that exude their mellow rock influences.

More than half of the band’s set was dedicated to the new material, including the Plaza standout “Roller” near the end of the set, where vocalist and guitarist Anna Fox Rochinski floats through this impossibly light song. Throughout the set, Rochiniski and vocalist and guitarist Shane Butler would swap vocal duties, even having drummer John Andrews join in on the fun for his own verses. But the band was its strongest when it came together for group vocals, a perfectly synced listening delight. Continue reading →

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Free At Noon Flashback: Philly’s first look at the Local Natives of Sunlit Youth

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Local Natives | Photo by Sydney Schaefer for WXPN | sydneyschaeferphotos.com

It’s no question that Local Natives have evolved. As the LA indie rockers played their recent single “Villainy” at Friday’s Free At Noon, an obvious change had taken place — all stringed instruments had been put down. Guitarist Ryan Hahn traded in for an electronic percussion pad, Taylor Rice dropped his guitar for strictly vocal duties, and bassist Nik Ewing switch over to the keys.

Anyone who hasn’t been staying current on Local Natives news might be shocked at such a development. It was those very strings, linked with rich harmonies, that defined the sound of the band’s first two album’s, 2010’s Gorilla Manor and 2013’s Hummingbird. But if you’ve been following the release of tracks from their forthcoming album Sunlit Youth, the on-stage alterations were not just expected, but appreciated as well. Continue reading →

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Free At Noon Flashback: Oh Pep! serves up an irresistible piece of Stadium Cake

Oh Pep! | Photo by John Vettese for WXPN
Oh Pep! | Photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Disaster struck for Oh Pep! during Friday’s Free At Noon.

Olivia Hally, one half of the Australian duo, had broken a guitar string during “Tea, Milk & Honey,” the band’s fifth song of a set that surely had to continue. Hally admitted the dilemma, usually remedied by a spare guitar, could only be fixed by restringing.

“That’s how rock and roll we are,” said Hally, in reference to the fact that she traveled to World Cafe Live with just one six-string. Continue reading →